Home > Comics, Movies, Reviews > Batman: Assault on Arkham is a poor man’s Suicide Squad

Batman: Assault on Arkham is a poor man’s Suicide Squad

Batman Assault on Arkham
The new Arkham universe-set Batman: Assault on Arkham DC animated film feels like a high-performance sports car driving at the speed limit. GThe new standard DC animation is sexy and good to look at, but the other movie elements are full of squandered potential and lazy progression.

If you know the Suicide Squad, you know how this works: government hardass Amanda Waller attaches bombs to a handful of villains and forces them to go on suicide missions for her. If they don’t obey, they get their heads blown off.

Mainstays Harley Quinn and Deadshot are the anchors of the team, while obscure villains King Shark, Captain Boomerang, Killer Frost and Black Spider round out the rest of the group for this particular caper. In Assault or Arkham, the Suicide Squad has to retrieve the Riddler from Arkham Asylum, and they’ll have to avoid Batman while doing it.

Much of the movie plays out like a bank heist, with the various characters sneaking their way into the max-security prison. However, the heist elements play out at a painfully slow pace, and seem to pause at every possible moment to give us a teasing glimpse of a girl with her shirt off. It gets to be gratuitous after a while, especially considering they can only tease it so much.

Harley Quinn gets the most screen (and skin) time, because let’s face it: she’s the big draw. Like in the comics, Harley is the best part of the film, and voice actress Hynden Walch does a bang-up job playing the role Arleen Sorkin defined. Walch’s Harley is goofy and gleeful, and you can’t help but smile when she shouts “Yahtzee!” at various points in the movie. She also has the only real character arc, as she’s forced to choose between “Mistah Jay” and her new squeeze, Deadshot, when things get messy.

There are some other great voice performances in here, too. Batman is back as the voice of Batman (read: Kevin Conroy returns), but he’s more a force of nature and a demon in the shadows than a full-fledged character this time around. Gustavo Fring Giancarlo Esposito is great as Black Spider, but he’s so ninja-like that he’s hardly in the film at all. Voice acting vet Jennifer Hale reprises one of her many animated roles with Killer Frost, and she’s delightful as always.

Troy Baker’s Mark Hammill Joker impression remains as close as you can come to being the real thing, and he gets some of the funniest, most enjoyable moments in the film. Alas, he and Bats eventually steal the show from our B-list baddies, especially the rather boring voices/characters of King Shark, Deadshot and Captain Australia Boomerang.

It only gets worse when Arkham goes nuts, because all the big name villains start to break out, and the Suicide Squad quickly looks boring by comparison. That’s also when it really starts to feel like it’s set in the Arkham-verse, as the character designs for Bane, Poison Ivy and Joker are identical to the games. Batman is also very Arkham-like, with his detective vision and his Batwing used to full effect.

Still, this is better than a video game cartoon, and there are enough interesting plot twists to make it more than a rote film. Assault on Arkham is a fairly mediocre outing for the otherwise fantastic DC animation team, but kudos to them for trying something different with a Suicide Squad story.

7 out of 10

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